One of my favorite games of all time is Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the Nintendo Switch. Mario Kart is a classic racing game where 12 players (either real people or CPUs) race around a track by accelerating, breaking, and steering their vehicle. The goal of each player is to finish the race as quickly as possible. There are a few mechanics that stand out to me as making Mario Kart especially fun.
Tricks and haptic feedback
One of the most satisfying parts of playing Mario Kart is doing tricks while mid-air. To perform a trick, players must shake the controller or press a button at the exact right moment when their vehicle leaves the ground. Successfully performing a trick will both provide visual feedback (a fun trick pose and speed boost flames) and haptic feedback (controller vibration). This feedback mechanic creates a Sensation aesthetic since both the visual and haptic feedback speak to the players’ senses. Haptic feedback is also present in other places in the game, such as drifting or getting a speed boost (seriously, feeling that controller vibration gives me a dopamine hit like nothing else).
Another core mechanic of Mario Kart is multiplayer mode (both local and online). Beating others at Mario Kart by blasting them with a blue shell is much more satisfying if they’re one of your friends rather than a CPU, so multiplayer mode elevates the aesthetic of Competition. Playing with friends also leads to a Fellowship aesthetic since we can sympathize with our friends’ losses and practice together to get better. Finally, although this definitely isn’t one of the main goals of the game or a common play style, I actually use Mario Kart as an opportunity to catch up with friends who live far away by video chatting while we race (this happens pretty regularly, too)!
Every cup (set of 4 races) in Mario Kart comes with a trophy that players can collect. To get the gold trophy with three stars (which is the best possible trophy), players need to get 1st place in all 4 races. Being able to collect all the three-star trophies is important to many Mario Kart players (myself included — I spent a significant chunk of my winter break working towards this), and it adds an additional element of Challenge to the game (besides the obvious obstacle course that is the race itself).